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The wave, as it advances, possesses a kind of power, which some call the purging of the sea, to eject all foreign substances. It is by this force that dead bodies and wrecks are cast on shore. But on retiring it does not possess sufficient power to carry back into the sea either dead bodies, wood, or even the lightest substances, such as cork, which may have been cast out by the waves. And by this means when places next the sea fall down, being undermined by the wave, the earth and the water charged with it are cast back again; and the weight [of the mud] working at the same time in conjunction with the force of the advancing tide, it is the sooner brought to settle at the bottom, instead of being carried out far into the sea. The force of the river current ceases at a very little distance beyond its mouth. Otherwise, supposing the rivers had an uninterrupted flow, by degrees the whole ocean would be filled in from the beach onwards, by the alluvial deposits. And this would be inevitable even were the Euxine deeper than the sea of Sardinia, than which a deeper sea has never been sounded, measuring, as it does, according to Posidonius, about 1000 fathoms.1

1 The word ὄργυια, here rendered fathoms, strictly means the length of the outstretched arms. As a measure of length it equals four πήχεις, or six feet one inch. Gosselin seems to doubt with reason whether they ever sounded such a depth as this would give, and proposes to compute it by a smaller stadium in use at the time of Herodotus, which would have the effect of diminishing the depth by almost one half.

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